The Caped Crusaders of Compost (Or Black Soldier Flies Aren’t the Bad Guys)

You know that fabulous speech at the end of The Dark Knight where Commissioner Gordon says, “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So, we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.”? Well, I love that speech. And that movie.

And apparently Woodley has seen the movie so many times, she has taken that speech to heart.

My dog thinks she’s the silent guardian of the second floor.

Because every night she stands guard at our window, waiting for feral cats to feed on the kibble left in the church parking lot below. My little red dog is convinced it’s her job to protect us from stray cats. She takes this job so seriously, in fact, that I often wake to find her at the window at 4 am, her watchful eye on the scene below. Every once in a while she sounds the canine alarm to alert us that feline danger is near, but mostly she just sits silently watching with cat murder on her mind.

So anyway, that’s all very much like Batman to me….

Do you know what else is like Batman? Me. (Just go with me here for a moment.) And my compost bin is like the crime-ridden city of Gotham.

I’m like the silent guardian of my compost bin, and apparently, I’m not very good at my job.

Today I went outside to stir the soil and noticed I had an abundance of maggoty looking things in my bin.

See? Maggoty things infesting my compost.

They first started to appear after my watermelon incident, and now they have multiplied at an alarming rate. I was initially troubled by their presence, but after some research, I learned they’re actually awesome.

These gross things are black soldier fly larvae, or Hermetia illucens, and they’re terribly efficient at breaking down nitrogen-rich kitchen scraps. What’s more, it turns out they fare well in extremely hot bins (which mine is due to the southern sun exposure on my balcony and the 45 straight days of temperatures in the 90’s).

Not only are the larvae good for my bin, but the black soldier flies themselves do not bother humans, are easy to catch, and they keep away other insects. AND you can feed the larvae to chickens. Not that I have chickens yet, but I desperately want them. I mean, I covet chickens. Los Angeles is zoned for them, so as soon as I have a yard, I will have chickens.

So, anyway, this black soldier fly situation is actually awesome. Though I initially set out to find out ways to hunt them and eradicate them, now I’m like the good people of Gotham realizing these flying black things only seem like the enemy. And they’re actually what my bin needs. So maybe my black soldier flies are really the Batman of my bin, and I’m just a simple city dwelling fool.

True, their presence sort of means bad news for my red worm population, but the red worms weren’t faring well in the first place due to the heat (and that whole drowning in watermelon incident).

So, now I’m embracing my new black soldier fly friends. If you want to read more about composting with black soldier flies, check out Steamy Kitchen here.

Now if only Woodley would realize the homeless kitties mean her no harm….

Of Baking and Batman (Or Here’s a Recipe for Classic Roll Out Cookies)

My sugar cookies may look ugly, but I swear they don’t suck.

I finally made some headway on the skull and crossbones cookie front, and I thought I’d hook everyone up with the recipe. I’m starting to feel a little too girly what with my attempts at sewing sachets and all of this baking, so I’m watching a lot of Batman and drinking dark stout while decorating cookies. I wish I could say that’s why the decorating of said cookies is so shoddy, but it isn’t. It’s just because I’m not all that good at it….

Well, it’s also because I refuse to use redi-made gel-type frostings for the finer details. I think redi-made gel-type frostings actually taste like tile grout. Since I don’t like tile grout slathered on my desserts, I just dyed a bit of cream cheese frosting for the finer details and used a toothpick as an applicator. (I used this black Wilton dye to achieve the black color, by the way.)

I hope your cookies end up looking better than mine. The recipe is below.

Butter Cookies

1 C butter, room temperature
½ C sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/3 C flour

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and almond extract. Gradually blend in flour. Form dough into one large ball and chill for one hour (or more).

Roll out part of the dough on a well-floured surface until it is roughly 1/4 inch thick. Dip cookie cutter into flour before cutting out the shapes. Roll out the remaining dough and repeat.

Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove the cookies immediately from the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Wait until the cookies have cooled completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

½ C butter, room temperature
½ C cream cheese
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 ½ C powdered sugar, sifted (or up to 3 C, depending on your personal taste)

Mix together butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla and mix. Gradually mix in sugar until the frosting is sort of fluffy and spreadable.

Riggins the Puppy (Or I Need a Reason to Smile Today)

There is so much sadness today. My heart is breaking for the families of the victims in Colorado. For the family of the alleged shooter. And for my friends who are grieving losses in their lives at this moment. When I woke up this morning, I had grand plans to post about wallpaper, but I just can’t now. Instead I want to share a link to The Daily Puppy because I think we could all use a little joy in our lives today.

This sweet Golden Retriever puppy answers to the name, “Riggins.” And, yes, he was named after the character played by Taylor Kitsch on Friday Night Lights. If you need cheering up, check out the link to Riggins’ bio here.

Photo Courtesy of The Daily Puppy

The Daily Puppy makes me happy. I hope it helps you too if your heart is feeling heavy.

If you haven’t seen Friday Night Lights, I suggest checking it out. It’s available via Netflix streaming, and it’s one of my favorite shows of all time. You don’t have to like football to appreciate the series. It’s not just a show about a game; it’s about family, friendship, values… and hope.

OK, that’s all for me today. I’m going to go snuggle with my pups now.